Project: Assisting with rental costs to facilitate the running of ‘Ownzone’ rooms for young carers
Fund: ESRI Charitable Fund
Carers Bucks is an independent charity that supports carers of all ages in Buckinghamshire, not only promoting the interest of carers but also working to advance public education regarding carers in the local area.
A carer is defined as someone without payment (other than the relevant benefits and allowances) who provides help to a partner, child, parent, relative, friend or neighbour who could not manage without their support. This could be due to age, physical or mental illness, addiction or disability.
Carers Bucks work closely with young carers, running clubs, group projects and providing 1-1 support for carers aged between 6 and 25. Their £1,500 grant from ESRI Charitable Fund has helped to pay the lease for their ‘Ownzone’ rooms at their head office in Aylesbury: rooms that have been decorated and set up with the needs of young carers in mind.
For Carers Bucks, the ‘Ownzone’ rooms are crucial to young carers and the staff who support them. The rooms provide a welcoming and safe environment for the charity to hold workshops, activities and private meetings at times to suit the young people they support. They even offer a drink and snack to any young carers who have missed having breakfast.
Ownzone with its comfy bright sofas and snuggling cushions has a way of creating a relaxing environment to promote discussion.
The ‘Ownzone’ rooms and the workshops that take place have had very encouraging feedback from the carers who use the space. Young carers have said that they feel better supported, that they are better informed about the condition of the person they are caring for and that they feel less isolated and more confident.
One excited seven-year-old young carer on entering the ‘Ownzone’ exclaimed, “it’s fantastic, just like having our own flat!” – although Carers Bucks have stressed that they do not encourage young carers to stay overnight!
Anna* has been attending Young Carers for 4 years since the age of 6 years old. She cared for her mum, who has mental health issues, and her stepdad who also had mental health issues, as well as physical disabilities. The ‘Ownzone’ has been invaluable to Anna throughout the years as it has been the one safe, stable and familiar place that she has consistently made use of when the rest of her home and family life has been in turmoil.
Anna was proud to show off the ‘Ownzone’ to her parents when we arranged a parent/young carers information meeting for young carers invited on a residential trip. She loved giving her parents a tour of the area, this in turn breaking the ice for her parents who had struggled with the anxiety of attending meetings previously.
When Anna was placed in foster care due to her mother’s hospitalisation into a psychiatric unit and the very sudden death of her step father to cancer, we continued to support Anna with the enormous number of feelings and fears she needed to process. We revisited her favourite board games and puppets that had given her comfort in the past and she asked for her favourite snack whilst we helped her through the difficult conversations on death, living away from your family and her mother’s mental health. This invaluable work and time together would not have been so positive and therapeutic without the ‘Ownzone’ space.
*Name has been changed to protect the young carer’s privacy.